A Determined Darwinist

Last month, a famous scientist and philosopher died. His name was Daniel Dennett. He was convinced that there was no mind behind the universe, but rather that mind had arisen from the combination of matter and natural selection. Now, his conscience has either been scattered across oblivion or he is in a position to know the truth.

Francis Beckwith, the noted Christian philosopher, reflected on his legacy, saying, “Dennett was a respected member of the profession, having a wide influence outside of the academy, largely as a result of his relationship with atheist popularizers, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, though they were not his equal philosophically (as they would readily admit).”

Part of what made Dennett famous was his determination to follow his Darwinistic conclusions about mind and matter all the way to what he thought were their fullest extent. The fullest extent was extreme, indeed. Dennett saw natural selection as the key that put matter on the throne and which utterly destroyed any idea of a mind behind creation. The result was a kind of universal acid (as Dennett described it) that ate away at the human fabric of traditions and principles that once framed the thinking of men and women. In its place would be a complete freedom from religion, which he tended to view as a dangerous and retrograde influence upon humanity.

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Hunter Baker, J.D., Ph.D., is the provost and dean of faculty at North Greenville University in South Carolina. He is the author of The End of Secularism, Political Thought: A Student’s Guide, and The System Has a Soul. His work has appeared in a wide variety of other books and journals. He is formally affiliated with Touchstone, the Journal of Markets and Morality, the Center for Religion, Culture, and Democracy, and the Land Center at Southwestern Seminary.